Star Nia Vardalos takes on writing, acting and directing duties in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 (Picture: Yannis Drakoulidis/Focus Features)
Writer Nia Vardalos leads the cast again as Toula – while sitting in the director’s chair for the first time – as the group heads to Greece for a family reunion, where they hope to honour her late father (Michael Constantine) by reuniting his childhood friends with his old journal.
It’s a paper-thin premise for a film but getting the clan out to the motherland is the way to keep this franchise fresh.
The family is fully immersed in their heritage for the first time, and in their element when surrounded by like-minded folk also ready to remind them of the Greek root for every word.
While Toula and American husband Ian (John Corbett) are happily settled, their daughter Paris (Elena Kampouris) this time hides a secret – standard for this family – which her mother is desperately trying not to involve herself with, and there’s also ‘a nice Greek boy’ (also standard for this family) that her meddling aunts are trying to foist on her.
Matriarch Maria (Lainie Kazan) is home in Chicago, dealing with the early stages of dementia – a topic Vardalos is still able to sensitively mine for jokes – leaving it up to Toula and her brother Nick (Louis Mandylor) to organise the unwieldy Portokalos crew.
The Portokalos family head off on a chaotic trip to Greece (Picture: Focus Features)
Toula (Vardalos) and company are faced with trying to save their planned family reunion (Picture: Yannis Drakoulidis/Focus Features)
Once they arrive in Greece though, welcomed by the enthusiastic and self-appointed mayor of their father’s hometown (non-binary character Victory, played by Melina Kotselou), it quickly becomes clear that their glorious Greek reunion is under threat, with the mountainside village pretty much deserted save for one extremely grumpy elderly woman.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 is ready to attempt tackling more timely issues with its subplot featuring Syrian immigrant Qamar (Stephanie Nur), but it struggles to do much of meaning with them.
Things are tied up far too quickly and simplistically – especially when it’s revealed there’s one more pretty large secret involving patriarch Gus from beyond the grave – but these films have always thrived more on the family dynamic depicted than anything else.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 attempts some weightier topics, but it’s all about the family’s explouts really (Picture: Yannis Drakoulidis/Focus Features)
You can expect some gorgeous island scenery (Picture: Yannis Drakoulidis/Focus Features)
The sparkling dialogue and humorous set pieces do a lot of heavy lifting, from the absolute chaos of a plane full of American-Greeks heading to the homeland, naturally with a platter of souvlaki at hand, to vegetarian Ian having to come out to another unimpressed Greek cook.
Standout Andrea Martin retains her deadly precision with a zinger as Aunt Voula, while Mandylor steps into the spotlight as Nick tries to figure out his place in the family, all the while delighting his siblings by trimming his nose hair at the table.
Fan-favourite double act cousins Nikki and Angelo (Gia Carides and NSYNC’s Joey Fatone) also get their own side-quest that involves the bonus of more gorgeous Greek island scenery.
Andrea Martin (L) is as superb as ever as Aunt Voula, bouncing off Maria Vacratsis’ Aunt Frieda (Picture: Yannis Drakoulidis/Focus Features)
Nikki (Gia Carides) and Angelo (Joey Fatone) also get their moment (Picture: Yannis Drakoulidis/Focus Features)
Even at the third time of asking, Vardalos has lost none of her talent for bringing an authentic and heartfelt depiction of the Greek experience to the big screen, ably supported by a committed cast.
It might be more about the humour and the Portokalos family than what actually happens in the movie, and it certainly won’t change cinema – but hey, we’re not rebuilding the Parthenon here.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 is out in cinemas on Friday, September 8.
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